Good news, bad news for the Sun
Mohegan - The Connecticut Sun were officially eliminated from the postseason on Sunday.
Well, at least Connecticut wasn't staked by its own hands.
Oh, the Sun tried to give the game away to former head coach Mike Thibault and his Washington Mystics. They blew an 11-point lead with over four minutes left in regulation and trailed in the final seconds.
Connecticut may have made things needlessly difficult most of this summer, but it does have moxie. Reserve Kelsey Griffin's putback at the end of regulation forced overtime, and she hit a 3-pointer late in the second overtime to give the Sun enough cushion to win, 89-81, before 7,348 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
"We're like masochists," Connecticut reserve Renee Montgomery said. "We torture ourselves. We lose all these close games, then we can't sleep at night.
"We're last in the East. We were in last place last year. At some point, you just play for pride. I think that was our main motivation."
The Sun (12-20) were knocked out of postseason contention when the Chicago Sky beat the first-place Atlanta Dream on Sunday night, 80-69.
Connecticut managed to prevent the second-place Mystics (15-16) from qualifying for the playoffs.
The win was more impressive given that the Sun finished down three starters.
Rookie Chiney Ogwumike had to leave with over three minutes left in regulation due to nausea. She's Connecticut's leading scorer and rebounder. She had an abscessed tooth drained last Tuesday and had missed the previous two games.
Starter Katie Douglas exited with over two minutes left in the second overtime due to her back. The extent of the injury isn't known. She had lower lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October.
All-Star Allison Hightower missed her 13 straight game after having knee surgery in July.
"I like the way we responded, and we did some good things down the stretch," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. "(Reserve) Kelly Faris did a super job off the bench defensively
"Kelsey Griffin, MVP of the game just in terms of her defensive energy, timely deflections, the last steal on (Bria) Hartley, and knocking down the three."
Washington's Kara Lawson had to be helped off the court with over five minutes left in regulation. The early diagnosis was a sprained ankle.
Alex Bentley had 18 points and four steals for Connecticut and Kelsey Bone had 15 points and 11 rebounds in over 44 minutes.
Montgomery added 14 points, including making all six of her free throws in the second overtime.
Ivory Latta had 20 points and six rebounds for Washington.
Bentley's layup gave Connecticut a 64-53 lead with over four minutes left in regulation.
The Sun proceeded to do everything they could to give the game away.
Hartley turned a Connecticut turnover into a 3-pointer to give Washington a 67-66 lead with one minute, 26 seconds left.
Monique Currie made the second of two free throws to push the Mystics ahead, 70-68, with 14.8 remaining.
Bone missed a 12-foot jumper with time running out, but Griffin put back the offensive rebound to tie the game at the buzzer.
Connecticut led by a point in the second overtime when Griffin made a 3-pointer to push it ahead, 79-75, with over two minutes left. It was just her eighth 3-pointer of the year.
"I am not someone shoots a lot of shots and produce a lot of points," said Griffin (eight points, six rebounds). "I work very hard on that shot. I knew Renee was getting a lot of attention and they were daring us to shoot from the outside. I said, 'why not and take the shot? I make it all the time in practice, why not now?"
Montgomery said, "I guess it showed character when we blew a lead and still hung on for dear life."
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